AZ Ice Arcadia offers girls free chance to play hockey
On Oct. 5, AZ Ice Arcadia participated in IIHF World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend.
The rink hosted its first ever Girls Try Hockey For Free – an event that offered girls ages 4-9 the opportunity to try hockey for a day cost-free. The event was organized by hockey director Justin Rogers and included volunteers from the Arizona Titans coaching staff and players from the Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University women’s teams.
The rink supplied full hockey gear, including AZ Ice jerseys and sticks for the girls to take home. All of the volunteers helped the girls get geared up and onto the ice. For the on-ice sessions, the volunteers paired up with 1-2 girls to teach them the basics and most importantly, to have fun on the ice.
GCU women’s coach Natalie Rossi jumped at the opportunity to get herself and the team involved in the event.
“It is important for rinks to host events like the Girls Try Hockey For Free because it gives girls the ability to try hockey for the first time at a price that all parents can afford,” Rossi said. “We are able to show them what the hockey community is about at an accessible price for families.”
Rossi recalls how much the hockey community has grown for girls and women. It’s important for her and her team to be a part of that growth and encouragement for girls in hockey.
“When I first started playing hockey, I didn’t meet any other girls, so for me being involved and having our GCU players involved means that the young girls trying hockey get to see the role models we currently have in the sport,” Rossi said. “The GCU girls love giving back because they see how much they can impact the future generation.”
Annabelle Koethe, a freshman on the GCU women’s team, loved being a part of the Girls Try Hockey For Free event. Koethe and the rest of the GCU and ASU volunteers ended the event with an autograph opportunity where they got to sign jerseys, sticks and helmets and talk to the girls more about hockey off the ice.
“I never knew how much our team impacted younger generations,” Koethe said. “I’ve always been the little girl looking up to the big girls and it was weird to have the perspectives changed. It’s a really cool experience.”
“The little girls out there trying hockey were having so much fun, and then seeing how excited the GCU players were to be on the ice and have fun with the little ones makes me so happy,” Rossi added. “I love how much our GCU girls buy in to making sure that the next generation has role models and making sure that we are them.”
This event was also a pleasant reminder for the volunteers and everyone involved. It was a chance to showcase exactly what the hockey community is about.
“An event like this reminds us hockey players why we love hockey, why we push so hard to be the best in our sport,” said Rossi. “Each of us have a little girl inside of us who fell in love with the game, and it’s important for our players to see another little girl falling in love with the game as a reminder of that.”
AZ Ice Arcadia plans to continue hosting events like this in the future including another Try Hockey For Free event open to boys and girls ages 4-9 on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1:30 p.m.
“It has always been our goal at AZ Ice to give everyone a fair chance to play hockey, or at least give it a try,” Rogers said. “We want to grow the hockey community in every way we can, and hosting these Try Hockey For Free events is the perfect way to do that. It was important for us to take this opportunity to shed light on the growing girls hockey in Valley, even within our own building.”
— Moriah Hernandez
(Oct. 21, 2019)